Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Fitting Memorial to Music Hall Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Fitting Memorial to Music Hall Star

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

ASINGER who portrayed 19thcentury Tyneside life in song was honoured in front of his great granddaughter who crossed an ocean to visit his home city.

Joe Wilson was born in Stowell Street in what is now Newcastle's Chinatown 175 years ago and went on to write more than 360 songs and recitations.

A huge hit on stage in the North East, his Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny ranks alongside George Ridley's The Blaydon Races as one of the greatest of Tyneside songs.

Newcastle historian and author Dave Harker is working on a book about the singer's life for the 175th anniversary date on November 29, when a music hall tribute night to the singer will be held at the Tyneside Irish Centre. Details on South Shields-based Ed Waugh is planning a play on the life of Joe Wilson and the anniversary will also be marked by a CD of Joe's songs by Pete Scott.

As part of the celebrations, it was arranged with Newcastle City Council that a blue commemorative plaque to Joe Wilson should be erected on his birthplace opposite Rosie's bar in Stowell Street.

But as Joe's great granddaughter Kasandra Van Keith was visiting Newcastle from her home in Canada this week, a special unveiling ceremony of the plaque was held at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Ed Waugh and Dave Harker got in touch with after coming across her request for information on her famous ancestor on the internet.

Joe died from TB in 1875, aged 33, and is buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery in Newcastle.

Many of his songs have been recorded by North East folk singers Johnny `Handle, Pete Scott, Judy Dinning and actors Tim Healy and Alun Armstrong.

Ed said: "Joe Wilson made his first proper professional appearance in 1864 at the 2,000-seat Balmbra's music hall in Newcastle's Bigg Market and became a huge star. …

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